Thursday, March 01, 2007

ROOTIN' AND TOOTIN'


I wrote a nasty piece about Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind™ — a new process for Zen practice Genpo claims will give you Enlightenment in just an hour — for this week’s Suicide Girls article. It’s going to “go live” — as they say — at Noon Pacific Time on Saturday (March 3, just 2 days before my birthday). Ever since I wrote a couple scathing paragraphs about Big Mind™ in a review of the movie "What The Bleep" about two years ago (click on the title of this article if you want to read it) I’ve been hearing from lots of people who’ve been involved in Big Mind™, or BM as I like to abbreviate it. And, man-o-man it sounds like it's even worse than I imagined! I’ve also heard from Zen teachers nearly everywhere I’ve gone to speak how appalled they are at this new development in the world of Zen. I’m starting to think that, maybe more than being just an obvious bit of low-rent sideshow hokum, this could possibly end up being the stuff of scandal sheets and Movies of the Week before too long. Of course, I’m sure Genpo and his butt-buddy Ken Wilber will end up on Oprah before then. Oh how the wheels of commerce do turn.

Anyway, I’ll leave it till Saturday before the serious Big Mind™ bashing begins. But while I was writing, I was fishing around on-line for a quote I recall seeing in which John Daido Loori praised Big Mind™ as an excellent skillful means or some such thing. The quote came from a printed hand-out someone got at a Big Mind™ seminar and kindly sent me, which I then kindly lost track of. I was hoping the same stuff ended up on the Internets somewhere, but I couldn’t find it. So I guess Daido gets a reprieve this time. Maybe he wisely told them to take his name off the list of supporters. Although I wouldn’t give too much credit to the guy who wrote the very worst book ever written in the history of books about Dogen (the reprehensible "True Dharma Eye," may every copy burn in Hell).

Anyway (again) I didn’t find the quote, but I did find a thing someone wrote way back in the golden year of twenty-ought-five about li’l old me. It’s always funny to see this kind of thing. I thought I’d share it with you. Here’s what they said:

“Notice that Brad Warner hasn't actually claimed to have tried the Big Mind™ process, or holosync for that matter. His ideas on what meditation/Buddhism must be are frustratingly stubborn. ‘That's not Zen! THIS is Zen! And I'm the rootin' tootin' toughest Zen cowboy in town!’”

Haw! Is that what I sound like? I am definitely not the rootin’ tootin’ toughest Zen cowboy in town. What I am, though, is honest. Real Buddhist practice is hard work. Guys like Genpo Roshi and the makers of the holosync try and con you into thinking there are easy peasy ways to get to the same place. There are not. This isn’t just my personal opinion. It’s a fact.

The dude goes on to say, “If Big Mind™ works, if it really can give you a little satori within hours (I'm also doubtful, but I have no right to claim anything until I've tried it) then it doesn’t matter if Genpo Roshi is a 30ft drug taking meerkat.”

I’ve heard this argument a lot, that I shouldn’t knock it till I’ve tried it cuz, who knows, maybe it really does work. But it isn’t a valid argument. Let me give you a metaphor. Let’s say a Martian came to Earth and an unscrupulous Earthling handed him a gram of coke and a straw. He tells the Martian that the coke is what we on Earth call a “piano.” He tells the Martian to suck it up thru the straw into his proboscis. The Martian does so and he goes back to Mars and tells his friends, “When I was on Earth I sucked a piano into my nose through a straw and it felt GREAT!” Now the Martians may believe him. But will anyone on Earth?

The only reason anyone falls for this kind of malarchy is that they don’t have any understanding what words like satori, kensho or enlightenment mean, just like our Martian friend has no idea what we on Planet Earth call a “piano.”

This doesn’t mean I’m calling all y’all dummies. I’m the biggest Neanderthal in town. But does it make sense to you that some new fangled technique is gonna get you 15 years of Zazen experience in just an hour? And if you don’t know the answer to that one, how about this? Do you think a new fangled miracle diet pill is going to help you lose the fat it took 15 years to put on in a single week? I thought not. Then why would you imagine a lifetime of misuse of your brain and body can be undone in an afternoon? (actually Genpo claims BM can give you Enlightenment "before lunchtime.")

So there's your sneak preview. Enjoy the Suicide Girls piece this weekend. Remember it’s free to look at my stuff up there. No need to join or risk accidentally seeing any tattooed nudie cuties.

*****POST SCRIPT March 8, 2007*****

I dug up the quote by John Daido Loori about Big Mind. It's from an article called "Genpo Roshi's Big Mind." The author is John Kain but the original source is not noted on the copy I have. I believe it was a hand-out given at a Big Mind™ seminar. Here's what it says:

"Zen teaching is like fishing," says John Daido Loori, the abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery, dharma brother to Genpo Roshi and author of numerous books including, Making Love with Light (Daido Roshi is my teacher and has a much more traditional approach to practice than does Genpo Roshi. I'd asked him what he thought of Genpo Roshi's less traditional method). "Every fisherman has a technique. Some use flies, some lures, some bait. The key is to get the student hooked. Genpo Roshi uses the Big Mind process. I use the Arts, and Tetsugen (Bernie Glassman) uses social action. What counts is what happens when the student gets hooked. Genpo Roshi has shown, through the strength of his successors, that he is good at the essential part of Zen training. His successors are excellent."


There you have it. Although I'm not really sure just what Daido is saying here. It's not quite as supportive as I'd recalled. In fact, it may be an obtuse way of saying he doesn't support BM. It's impossible to know. Which may be the problem (see my March 7 article). I do have a problem, as well, with the idea that it's OK to hook a student with something deceptive. Or to hook students at all. This may be a matter for another article.

169 comments:

Lala said...

Dude! I 100% support you in mocking faux-enlightenment snake oil, but the comment about Genpo and his "butt-buddy" was homophobic. I'd be very surprised if you were sitting around thinking about how you insulting it would be to imply that they're The Gay when you wrote it, but that's how it came out.
Otherwise, good work. Carry on.

Anonymous said...

it's like the difference between fast fun rinzai tradition and the boring slow soto ordeal.

Lone Wolf said...

Yeah! I finally got my copy of Master Dogen's Shobogenzo Vol. 3 (Nishijima/Cross) and Vol. 1, 2, and 4 are on the way.

Brad- I would like to know how Loori's translation differs from the Nishijima/Cross version? (Besides the missing the word "Right" in the title)

Looking forward to the SG's article.

Renegade Buddha said...

Big Mind sounds like a bad 80's band. Aside from that, I always suspected that was some kind of scam but never looked into it. Of course a connection to Ken Wilbur is about all the evidence I need to run the other way.

Lone Wolf said...

Here is retreat information from Sanshinji in Bloomington, Indiana. I would like to do a retreat there some day, because they teach Just sitting or shikantaza (which seems rare these days, everybody else does koan practice or hits each other with sticks, Uchiyama refered to those things as "toys' and said are sesshins are "sesshin's without toys"). This is most likely so because Shohaku Okumura Roshi's teacher was Kosho Uchiyama Roshi and Uchiyama Roshi's teacher was Kodo Sawaki Roshi.

But I will definitely go to a smaller sesshin before I do the Uchiyama style sesshin.

Is there such a thing as too much Zazen?

Here is the scedule: ehh!

Uchiyama Roshi-Style Sesshin at Sanshinji
February 28 - March 5, 2007
This sesshin, created by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi and practiced at Antaiji in Kyoto, Japan, is the core of Sanshin practice. During this sesshin we practice in complete silence. The schedule consists of fourteen 50-minute periods with a short break following each oryoki meal. The sesshin is an opportunity for participants to focus strictly on zazen with minimal distractions. If you wish to participate, we recommend that you read Opening the Hand of Thought by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi in order to understand the significance of this sesshin. We also recommend you have some retreat experience before participating in an Uchiyama Roshi Style Sesshin.


Wednesday (February 28th)
9:00 AM Temple Cleaning
4:00 PM Server and doan training (upon request)
5:00 Oryoki Instruction (if needed)
6:00 Supper
7:00 Orientation
8:00 Zazen
8:50 End of Day

Thursday - Sunday (March 1st - 4th)
3:40 AM Wakeup
4:10 Zazen
5:00 Kinhin
5:10 Zazen
6:00 Serve-up/Breakfast/Break
7:10 Zazen
8:00 Kinhin
8:10 Zazen
9:00 Kinhin
9:10 Zazen
10:00 Kinhin
10:10 Zazen
11:00 Kinhin
11:10 Zazen
12:00 PM Serve-up/Lunch/Break
1:10 Zazen
2:00 Kinhin
2:10 Zazen
3:00 Kinhin
3:10 Zazen
4:00 Kinhin
4:10 Zazen
5:00 Kinhin
5:10 Zazen
6:00 Serve-up/Dinner/Break
7:10 Zazen
8:00 Kinhin
8:10 Zazen
9:00 End of Day

Monday (March 5th)
3:40 AM Wakeup
8:10 Zazen
4:10 Zazen
5:00 Kinhin
5:10 Zazen
6:00 Serve-up/Breakfast/Break
7:10 Zazen
8:00 Kinhin
9:00 Kinhin
9:10 Zazen
10:00 Kinhin
10:10 Zazen
11:00 Temple Cleaning
11:30 Sangha Gathering
12:00 Lunch/Cleanup
End of Retreat

Now that is some hardcore Zen.

MikeDoe said...

Assuming that BM does anything at all (and that is a big one) and for a few seconds you experience something. What is the point?
You are just paying someone else to experience a high. If nothing else changes, that is all you have done.

I like the idea of years of practice to sort out years of mess. It has a strong ring of truth about it.

"No need to join or risk accidentally seeing any tattooed nudie cuties."
I'm skipping past these to read your articles. It's freaking me out. Man, it just aint right - to want to read the articles and skip the pictures.

Anonymous said...

‘That's not Zen! THIS is Zen! And I'm the rootin' tootin' toughest Zen cowboy in town!’”

Haw! Is that what I sound like?


For me, at least YES! It's hard to fathom that you are 40 years old. You sound like angry-teenage-mutant-zen-master or something. Insecure one.

All (2) zen masters (and one vipassana teachers) I have ever been studying with just mind their own business. If you ask about Big Mind, they just say: "We do not do that here." without hesitation. They may even prohibit people talking about kundalini, chakras, homeopaty, etc. in temple area. But they seem to have firm belief that it is not their job to tell adult people what to do. Only reguirements seems to be that if you study with them, you follow only their teaching. They do their job and others do theirs.

Anonymous said...

All I can say, is that it's a shame we have to join to see the nudie cuties.

*Searches internet, vigerously*

Damn, this Zen stuff is hard.

On a serious note, in regards to the above poster. Although I do on some level agree with the comments and it's something that makes my mind tick over that extra cog, it is interesting to note that you're telling Brad what to do ;)

gniz said...

Occasionally Brad seems to lapse into name-calling and so forth in order to get the controversy blazing.
Look, he needs to get his readership up, same as I do on my blog. When we try and publish books, especially non-fiction, "platform" is a big part of what helps to sell books.
And platform means how many people are on your myspace page, your blog, reading your Suicide Girls articles, etc.
Brad's no dummy. Inflammatory and caustic articles are the ones people most respond to.

In closing, check out my blog!
http://www.gangstazen.blogspot.com

Wingedgopher said...

Meh, it's still better than this:

http://www.tkb.org/Group.jsp?groupID=3583

There's a guy on a political discussion board I visit from time to time who thinks that's a legitimate representation of what Buddhism is all about. This guy also has a Gueverified picture of Jesus as has avatar.

Anonymous said...

it is interesting to note that you're telling Brad what to do ;)

But I'm not claiming I'm teaching buddha-dharma. The point is, if you are teaching buddha-dharma you should watch what you say. Carefully. People will learn from Brad that buddhist way is to put down non buddhist. Our dharma against their. Soto vs. Rinzai.

Nuto said...

You should shave your goatie, cut your hair, get some nerdier glasses and then visit one of their seminars. I bet this would be a lot of fun for everyone involved and some awsome investigative underground journalism

rchinn72 said...

For me, it was pretty easy to see that the whole " big mind" thing is full of shit. The people that cannot see through it will just end up wasting a lot of time and money.
There are a hell of a lot of people out there giving Jesus a bad name...or misinterpreting him...or exploiting him. This seems like it could be a recurring theme in all religions.
By the way, has anyone seen the movie Idiocracy?
Don't fret it Brad, things that don't work don't stick. It's evolution baby!

Anonymous said...

"The Emperor has no clothes."

Glad to hear Brad call Genpo a goofball and an asshole.

If you don't want to be silently complicit,
it's important to call a spade a 'spade' and
a conspirator a 'conspirator'...

"Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the
attacks of September the 11th; malicious lies that attempt to shift
the blame away from the terrorists, themselves, away from the guilty."
-- George W. Bush, November 10, 2001

November 10, 2001

seems odd to say just a month after, no?


"And the conspiracy theorists can say what they will, but the
Warren Commission report will always have the final definitive
say on this tragic matter. Why? Because Jerry Ford put his name
on it and Jerry Ford's word was always good."
-- George H. W. Bush, January 2, 2007

club of thugs' criminal backscratching

JFK II


(Hmm, why are those Bushes so concerned about conspiracy theories ;)

Methinks thou dost protest too much!

nobody said...

I personally do think that there is merit to the idea that one needs to try something before one dismisses it. There's very little credibility otherwise, because what one is reacting to is only one's idea of something, not the actual thing itself.

I have a strong dislike of Ken Wilber and am also quite skeptical about Big Mind and the way it is marketed. I agree with mikedoe that even if it does give people some sort of profound experience, that's all it is, a passing experience, and even in Rinzai, which places a stronger emphasis on kensho, any moment of insight is only considered worthwhile as part of an entire lifetime of training and practice.

That said, I don't believe that this is a scam in the sense that Genpo and the others involved are just lying to people to make money. And I've started to wonder if there's not something to it, because some of the experiences I've had in my own practice--which is plain ol' daily zazen and mindfulness--have brought to light the existence not only of a multiplicity of inner voices, but of how some of them do seem to have certain concrete attributes, and some seem wiser while some seem more confused and deluded.

This experience is referenced to elsewhere in Zen--I particularly think of the koan where the Zen Master is ordering himself to be diligent in his practice and responding to himself in the affirmative, and the question of the koan is who are these different identities, and are they one? Are they two? Aleister Crowley also had the idea of the "Holy Guardian Angel," a voice of wisdom that exists in everyone. There's a lot of folk descriptions about this sort of experience as well, such as the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other.

I didn't go even think much about having read about the above until I began to notice certain distinctions in the inner cacophony of voices, and that there was at least one that always seemed a little wiser and clearer. The more I began to note this and observe it, the more the tight grip on the idea of a singular, continuous self began to loosen. No kensho or big 'wow moment,' but more of an organic thing. I've begun to associate one of these wise voices with Kannon Bodhisattva, and this has really helped my practice in ways that are hard to describe; I don't feel as needy or lonely any more.

So this makes me wonder, given that the approach Big Mind uses is identifying and having a dialogue with the different inner voices we all have. I still don't see how the exercises I've read about could lead to kensho, much less satori, but that doesn't mean that the technique might not actually have some merit to it. I can see that the experience of having a chorus of inner voices, rather than one singular voice, could even in just a day loosen the grip of the notion of self and encourage people to relate to themselves differently.

gniz said...

Nobody,

Man you said a mouthful there--really, really well put.

I'm kind of intrigued by what you say about a voice that's more sane--i've experienced something similar, although i've never quite thought of it like that...

and i dont know what to make of it having had it pointed out, but your comment was refreshing and balanced.

Also, i've found the supposedly sane voice can then turn around and become insane as well, which is tricky...

-Aaron
http://www.gangstazen.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Brad--

I definitely think you're right to criticize Big Mind, but I also think you have a tendency to be overly critical of other teachers and teachings (as when you criticize Loori's book on Dogen). The fact is that nobody is completely right about anything, and lots of teachings can be helpful to people. As long as the teacher is telling students to sit zazen (as Loori does), he can't do too much harm, and might do some good.

In our precepts (I practice at a little Zendo associated with the San Francisco Zen Center) we have a precept against praising oneself at the expense of others. I often think some of your posts inadvertantly do that. There's no need to be too combative.

I always thought the woman named Karen who used to comment on these pages was the sanest voice I heard here.

Professordave

Waylon said...

Well I for one am gonna run out the door and score some crack ASAP....Having been telling people that crack is a waste of time without actually having tried it has been a horrible mistake.....those crackhead's may be on to something. LOL

Anonymous said...

Lone Wolf,

I've been to an "Antaji-style" retreat at Sashinji, in Bloomington, Indiana. It is indeed a "hardcore" sesshin. In my brief orientation, the zen monk (his name was "zenshin") told me the schedule was "insane." 45-minute sitting periods! If you want more info, I can tell you what little else I know. email me at paramita06 {at}hotmail.com

UncaDan said...

My experience with the "inner voice" goes back to my days in the Christian church. In Christianity the Holy Spirit is your inner teacher. Jesus said that when he leaves he will send another comforter who is the Holy Spirit who will teach you all things. The funny thing is it was this Holy Spirit that took me out of the church when I was no longer growing spiritually and put me on the path I'm on now

Ryan said...

"Butt-Buddy"? Come on - why ruin a perfectly good post with a lame homophobic term like that. I haven't heard that used since 4th grade (thankfully). Talk like that make me not support certain athletes or buy people's books/records.

Anonymous said...

'But I'm not claiming I'm teaching buddha-dharma. The point is, if you are teaching buddha-dharma you should watch what you say. Carefully. People will learn from Brad that buddhist way is to put down non buddhist. Our dharma against their. Soto vs. Rinzai.

I don't see Brad putting down non-buddhists, but that's not the point.

If you're posting here, then I'll assume you're practicing zazen, in the same way Brad is doing. Yes, he has some responsibility being a teacher, but then so do you being a member of the community. You're both in the same position. Now tell me how you can criticise Brad using the exact same methods that you're criticising?

If I were you I'd think about that one for a second.

6billionghosts said...

I have a BM every day before lunch. At this rate I'll reach Enlightenment by the weekend!

bruce said...

Ryan - Brad is of an older generation. The guy is 44 years old now. He is older than my grandfather.. It was a different world back in his day. For men, challenging another’s sexual orientation was a way of affirming their own masculinity and diverting attention away from their own feminine qualities.

Ryan said...

Just disappointed because I told a friend about this blog yesterday and now they will check it out and be smacked in the face by the homophobic comment, be it intentional or light hearted (but irresponsible).

DharmaStudentTN said...

Brad,

At least you've got the balls to say what you mean about Big Mind and Genpo Merza. Barry Graham and I have been talking about it for months now, how Genpo has suddenly come out with a high-priced Zen "product" (for lack of a better word), and he's marketing it like mad. If it were so amazing, shouldn't he be obligated by the precepts to share it with everyone without cost?

Big Mind can't be the Zen that's become such an integral part of my own life. If BM gave one enlightenment, then consequently that same enlightenment could be taken away. It rejects the Buddha's own teachings that we are each and every one a lamp unto our own path. We are each already Buddha, and I, for one, don't need Genpo, or God forbid, Ken Wilbur, to sell me something that I'm not missing.

And don't get me started on the "talking to the inner voices" thing. That's just one delusion after another. Telling ourselves a story while sitting on the cushion isn't zazen, and I don't think it ever will be.

Oh, and as a gay guy, I did not find the "butt buddy" comment homophobic at all. It was pretty accurate, if you ask me.

Esmerelda said...

Professordave said: I always thought the woman named Karen who used to comment on these pages was the sanest voice I heard here.

I liked her too. She was always worth reading if anyone knows where she went. It would be nice to have her come back.

There is a lot of the mush brained stuff: Big Mind, Healing Light, Guided Meditation junk in the Yoga community. Really silly.

Yeah, you might have an experience that makes you question your world view, just like drugs. So what? You were just messing with your mind. Lots of ways to do that. It can be a fun recreational experience but don't take it seriously and don't spend a lot of money.

Even if you get an 'enlightenment experience' after years and years sitting, there is still the rest of your life to work at staying 'enlighened'.

"James" said...

The thing that disappoints me the most about the BM "school" is that it seems to ignore thousands of years of teachings and practice. Generations upon generations of great masters are being tossed out the window for some quick "buzz."

In my humble understanding of Enlightenment, it appears to be something that when upon being realized it is to be maintained not acquired in an instant through a "donation" to some self-professed "guru." Showing it to friends, "Look what I picked up on my lunch hour!!"

Sure there are stories of people instantly enlightened but those are very, very rare instances. Even the Buddha couldn't "give" people Enlightenment.

Images of Golem from Lord of the Rings come to mind with his "precious."

I think that we're treading upon thin ice when we believe that we know better then generation upon generation of monks well versed in the Dharma. I guess that they've wasted their lives?? I am highly suspicious of that kind of thinking :/

I think that we have an obligation to take our tradition seriously and not as the latest, "book of the month."

Of course we shouldn't take our selves too seriously though. I know too many "Buddhists" who take themselves waaayyyy too seriously. The Buddha had a sense of humor and fun too.

From reading from the BM site it seems to me that this guy is taking advantage of people's fragile minds. It also seems to me that this guy (and some of these people following him) need psychotropic drugs--seriously. I mean connecting to different voices?? As someone with a form of schizophrenia I take meds to eliminate "voices." I don't need some "pratice" that encourages them. Eek!! :/

It just seems like a lot of hocus pocus. Smoke and mirrors kind of stuff.

As for criticizing Brad and his opinion of BM? Are you saying that just because we are "Buddhists" we can not have opinions?? Of course you have a right to your opinion (as does BM) but the point is...so does Brad.

And just because he teaches the Dharma does not mean that he has to accept whatever floats down the river.

But then again, that's just my opinion. ;)

Francisca said...

While reading all these comments, it occured to me what a newbie I am to all these things...I have no idea what "piano" means in any sense.

However, I am happy to be a dummie ;)

Greetings earthlings,
Francisca.
My dummie weblog

Daniel said...

Butt-buddy? Feeling a bit superior are we?

Al Billings said...

What is it that you don't like about Loori's book on Dogen?

Jordan & The Tortoise said...

For Franchesca:
piano

Anonymous said...

Hey Everybody,

I've got a revolutionary, new technique for
wiping your butt that I call Big Asshole®.
In fact, for just $79.95, I'll send you a DVD
with a detailed demonstration that you can
watch over and over again. And if you buy
now, you'll also get a Big Asshole® t-shirt
that you can show off to your friends!

But wait! That's not all!

For an additional $79.95, I'll also send you
a DVD of my new, advanced technique for
flossing your teeth that I call Big Mouth®.
And if you buy now, you'll get a Big Mouth®
t-shirt AND a Big Mouth® certificate of
accomplishment that will entitle you to
teach others!

Hell, I'll even throw in the special surprise
combo deal for FREE: a Pocket Fisherman,
a Mr. Microphone, AND a stylin' set
of Ginsu knives!


(But, if wiping your ass and flossing your teeth
are just something you do everyday without
giving it too much thought, then maybe you
might just try sitting the same way ;)

David said...

what's wrong with brad calling Ken Wilbur Genpo's butt buddy?

it's not homophobic. it's a joke... lighten up, yo.

besides, brad's been on wilbur's case for years now.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel said...

David, I'm curious why you think its OK to call two guys "butt-buddies". Would it be OK to call them "niggers" too? How about "kikes" or "spics"? I mean, its just a joke, right? Nothing personal.

Shozan said...

Brad,

I just read Ken Wilber's introduction to Genpo's new book - I guarantee it will make your gorge rise

Anonymous said...

I got an idea, how about we start selling Brad's self-righteousness and see if it sells more than Genpo Roshi's Big Mind material.

I'm afraid that I was taught that if I had a problem with a Buddhist teacher (he is a Roshi) that I should keep it to myself or take it up personally with them. I guess Brad isn't under those vows though.

Administrator said...

oh Brad, all my respect for you is gone after this one.
Hey man, what if it's Genpo that has it right and you have it wrong?

there is this saying where I come from: eat shit, t=milions of flys can not be wrong.
Just because milions of teachers throughout the centuries saw, understood and taught reality in a certain way does not men they are right and everyone else is wrong - dos it now?

Marilyn Manson said...

Sadly, this is not a joke. Incorrect buddhist views are the new black and butt play is always wrong. Speaking of black, I was once attacked by a band of gay blacks. I brought it upon myself of course. Do not pretend that you don't know what I am talking about. we both know that you do..

Anonymous said...

My perspective on Genpo is cynical. He is from a generation of young americans in the 60's who
gave almost everything, sometimes at young age, for Zen. I imagine he realized later on that he
was neither Glassman or Loori (even thought the latter received Inka from Kenpo) and dana(s) do
not provide much of a living for your family and do not put your kids into college - unless your
name is Richard Baker! For those familiar with zendos, we all know that many comes but few stay... The apparent dryness of Zen relative to other practices coated in sugar has a way to drive away people. Anyway, there is nothing like a quick gimmick and an association with Ken Wilber to pay for your kid's college. Again I don't know the
guy and the purpose of my speculations about his past situation is just to illustrate the point that other considerations beside the spiritual might have come into play in his promotion of the
Big Mind stuff. His discovery of the Big Mind kind of imply that Buddha, Dogen, Hakuin, and about
99 percent of the Buddhist teachers in America are just a bunch morons who fail to realize the obvious. Sure ...

About opinions in Buddhism, precept of right speech, etc. From what I red, Dogen and Hakuin were
not too shy at trash talking other teachers and teachings ... Just read Hakuin's stuff, the guy is judging in all directions ...

I am also curious Brad, what are your issues with Loori's book. Thank you.

A Strange Day said...

To those getting on Brad's case for ragging on Big Mind, do you even have any idea what Buddhism is? Have you ever done zazen or even picked up a book on Buddhism in your lives? How could you possibly think that some device could produce enlightenment when zazen is enlightenment itself?

Anonymous said...

Brad's no dummy. Inflammatory and caustic articles are the ones people most respond to.

Too bad it is not the way the buddhist teachings advocate.

Francisca said...

Thank you Jordan for helping me understand the definition of piano! Although I wonder if Wikipedia is the all-knowing source on piano's...?

...now that I know what piano "means", does that mean I know how to use it as well?...

Francisca said...

p.s. Brad...how about starting a forum?

6billionghosts said...

We shall call this forum: "Community Devoted to Analyzing, Criticizing and Deconstructing the rhetoric of Brad Warner."

Next on the list of entities to establish..Academic departments across the globe enjoying the same pursuit!

A Publishing house! International associations! Programs for awarding honors! THE FUN NEVER ENDS!

Anonymous said...

Or...

For the price of a webcam with
a microphone, Brad could start
a virtual zendo on

http://www.stickam.com/

We could all watch Brad and
friends do the Saturday morning
sit, walk, and talk thing.

Hey, this Internet stuff is the
best thing since sliced bread!

Anonymous said...

Oops, here's a clickable URL for
those too lazy to copy and paste:

http://www.stickam.com/

Zac in Virginia said...

I think that the idea of trying something before criticizing it is important, but Waylon brings up a good point about crack.
While I'm a little disturbed by a) the "butt-buddy" comment (if the Dalai can make his point without being homophobic, so can you) and b) the recent post about "too excellent" heating pads (read: "too macho" zen masters, though I get what you meant), I think that the very *idea* of achieving enlightenment as some sort of state or different mode of being is, in itself, the problem.
Take the cokehead Martian analogy: it'd be like the human also told the Martian, "Oh, and until you try this, you aren't actually a living, thinking creature."
I mean, come on! The "Big Mind" folks are basically saying that enlightenment is something you can reach, something you can attain. It's not. You're already there. Just act on it.
Enlightenment is less about what you put into your head and more about what you pull your head *out* of. You know, like your butt. And aren't we a little too attached to the idea of enlightenment if we strive like desperate dieters to find the quick fix? The quick fix is pretty much never the right idea.

Anonymous said...

I was just checking out the Chodo Cross (dharma heir of Nishijima?)website and see that he is peddling something called the Alexander Technique along with zazen.

He also has some misgivings about his Nishijima's understanding of Dogen. Looks like trash talking runs in the family.

Administrator said...

it is an interesting idea - that enlightenment is something that looks a particular way and can be only be achieved by doing one particular practice for a particular number of years with particular teachers.

One might get an impression that enlightenment is a very limited experience.

Anonymous said...

Hey butt-buddies,

Have you ever noticed that the most
homophobic are indeed the gayest of
the gay? It seems the more vicious
their hate, the more deeply closeted
is their ferocious lust for some
monster man-meat.

You know, like that Evangelical
Christian pastor Ted Haggard, who
preached hatred of gay druggies by
day and snorted meth before engaging
in hot, sweaty man-on-man action
with male prostitutes by night.

What's really funny too, is that he
also appeared in Richard Dawkin's
documentary The Root of All Evil.

BTW, I'm gay (except when I'm not)
and some of my best friends are gay.

Anyhow, time for me to go to the
gay bar!

j said...

I, too, would be curious to know what you disliked about Loori's book.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I prefer
dancing at the lesbian bar.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, apparently Haggard is
also...

a "firm" supporter of President Bush.

Administrator said...

I just read the SG blog-slander on Genpo.
It made me feel just like reading this email that I got from a woman who had some tender feelings towards my husband and saw it as her obligation to enlighten me to all my husbands terrible faults and vices. I felt sick, disgusted, I could barley finish reading it - the energy emanating from it was just so...well...sick and nasty.
Reading your post Brad made me feel just like that.
You have a problem dude, if I may say so.

Anonymous said...

from Stuart Lach:

"at the Kanzeon Zendo in Bar Harbor
Maine, a student complained to her
roshi, Dennis Merzel, that people
were upset, there was an uneasiness,
something seemed to be wrong with
the group. Merzel replied that
students were upset because he was
being more difficult in passing
them with their koans. The student
accepted this as the answer. The
point was understood by both
Merzel and the student, that this
was Merzel’s prerogative as roshi.
It had nothing to do with direct
insight or any other kind of
insight. Just as an aside, it
turned out the source of the
“uneasiness” with the group had
nothing at all to do with the speed
or slowness of “passing” koans.
Rather, it was Merzel’s having a
“secret” affair with a student or
two. Interestingly, one of the
women went on to become a dharma
heir of his.

Very niiice!

nobody said...

gniz - Thank you. Anything can turn into insanity if one latches onto it as constant, solid, or having some inherent essence. I'm a bit wary of talking about the "different voices" thing because people think it sounds crazy and shut down in response. But I think it's just basic observation on the nature of the mind and of subjective experience.

It does feel crazy to become aware of it, because it runs counter to our cultural conditioning. But I just don't see how anyone who pays any attention to their mind at all can attribute all the various thoughts in various different tones that occupy it to the same voice.

At the end of the day, there really are no "voices" at all, but I find it more skillful to look at one's experience as that of a multiplicity than as that of a singularity. And I find that I am much less confused by others with this perspective as well, because I realize that we can give rise to contradictory voices or identities, and this is just part of what defines us as human beings.

I think this all is in keeping with what the Buddha originally taught, that all things lack a singular essence.

administrator - I didn't see that at all. I found Brad to be a lot more clean and clear about his points in the SG article than in this post.

cromanyak said...

It's weird how two people can read the same thing and have a totally different experience of it. Administrator said it made her sick to read Brad's article. I was expecting it to be really nasty too, but in fact it was actually very sane. Brad stuck to criticising the the technique of Genpo Roshi instead of his character and made his point very clear. If I would have read this a few years ago I probably would have felt sick too because it would have made me face the fact that there is no instant solution. Back then that was something that I truly believed in, and still wish for to some extent.

Administrator said...

To be more specific - this is what felt so nasty about what Bard wrote:

"Dennis Merzel, who calls himself Genpo Roshi,"

or

"This is, of course, pure horseshit. Clowns like these can con folks into parting with large sums of money — there’s a $150 “suggested donation” to attend a Big Mind™ seminar — to hear them spout drivel like this because there is so little understanding of what kensho or satori — Enlightenment, in other words — actually is."

He is being a bit insulting there, I think. Without actually knowing Genpo, I believe, he feels at libery to accuse him of some really nasty stuff.
Genpo happens to be an abbot of an international "White Plum Sangha", not just some upstart-guy who pretends to be zen teacher, but that aside - this is what really got me:

"you cannot suck a piano into your nose through a straw and you cannot get Enlightened in an hour. Never. No way. No how. Fergeddaboudit! "

How does Brad know that? How can he be so sure? I would say - so rigtously sure? Just because his teacher said so? Because he's teacher's teacher said so? Just because he thinks so?

I don't think I would like to work with any teacher that puts such clearly defined limits on reality and says - this is how it is. Period. It will never be diferent! Ever!

What a terrible jail that you can never, ever get out off!

gniz said...

Nobody,

I agree with you on the "voices" and on the SG article. It was a solid article and I found little to disagree with about it.

Also, I read your blog and linked to it on mine. I think your approach is something I heartily identify with.

Aaron

www.gangstazen.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I like a lot of what you say Brad, and I often feel myself getting as fired up about other folks mistaken notions of 'buddhism' too, but you kinda sound like a dick.

Not in an "well he's just tellin it like it is" kinda way, but in that "its my blog and I can be a dick if I want to" way.

C'mon Brad, I love the honesty but leave the angry sectarainaism at the door please.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

ps: Brad makes no pretensions of being perfect.

David said...

pps: I've been a long-time reader of Brad's, from his old articles to his blog (a few years now it's been), and one thing that impressed me from the beginning and stuck with me most strongly with Brad is:
what you see is what you get...

his writing has definitely gotten saucier over the years, but ya know, it seems to me that the sauciness was there all along, and Brad is evolving into himself--really starting to come into himself as a writer, not holding back (go Brad go! don't censor yourself for lil' old me--I want the whole kit and caboodle)

Isn't that what life is about? Touching who we are?

Francisca said...

What a load of fuzz about enlightment..isn't sitting just sitting and shouldn't that be enough?
I never started zazen with the hope that one day I would be enlightened..just wanted some silence a couple of minutes a day...

I mean even the word enlightenement makes me feel "not so well in the stomach".

Dont worry be happy :)

cromanyak said...

this is what really got me:

"you cannot suck a piano into your nose through a straw and you cannot get Enlightened in an hour. Never. No way. No how. Fergeddaboudit! "

At some point I had to admit to myself that this enlightenment stuff was just as subject to the laws of nature as anything else.

Mockney Rebel said...

Opinions are like arseholes...everyone has one :)

Brad's post about BM is just his opinion. Has Brad actually attended a BM session?

Can we expect more homphobic remarks from Brad on this blog? ("butt-buddy")

Does Brad have some kind of Zen bi-polar disorder? He seems to alternate between enlightened insight and name calling schmuckery.

Brad trying to impose his version of "Real Buddhist practice" is laughable. If he wants to say X or Y works in his experience then fine, but anything more than that is just opinion (and opinions are...oh you get the idea).

If anyone would like me to write a review of Brad's new book just send me an email and $100. I haven't actually read his new book but i'm happy to write a review if you pay me :)

Zac in Virginia said...

This just in...
Saying that you're friends with gay people does not mean that you have dealt with your homophobia to the fullest extent possible.
On some level, it's as if this fairly fifth-grade comment has managed to bring out an issue that we probably wouldn't have touched on at all.
Oh, and in response to Francisca...
Sometimes I wonder if zazen really is just another way to have some quiet time each day. I wonder if I'm instilling authority in the notion that there's really an absoultely "correct" way to meditate.

Daniel said...

David, I guess it's ok to call you and your girlfriend "pussy-buddies" and "cock-buddies" then.

Have fun with your closeted homophobia. Don't worry though, Ann Coulter approves.

muddy elephant said...

Sometimes we feel like we need an answer right now to clear our doubts about our spiritual practice. The quickness of deep realization that Big Mind purports to offer seems might be one way to do this. Another way to get beyond our natural doubt would be exploring the "instant access" attributed to psychedelic experience. There is also the healing ceremonies of shamanic rituals, not to mention a host of other practices and hierarchies of beliefs…

In contrast to these types of activities zazen seems extremely rigid and boring. And in America rigid and boring just doesn't sell.

It seems Brad is just trying to do everyone a favor by trying to stop people from becoming a sucker and becoming even more deluded and possibly even psychologically damaged by believing that truth is something that can be easily obtained.

He just happens to seem abrasive and careless about it. Which by the way has the good side effect of setting off our own personal bullshit detectors.

nobody said...

Aaron - Thank you for the wonderful compliment. I've added your blog to my "Favorites," and look forward to reading more of your writing.

And this is a more general comment in response to some of what has been said here: I think the "crack" analogy is erroneous. The point of the "crack" analogy is that it's silly to say "we shouldn't criticize crack until we've tried it," because we know for a fact that doing crack has measurably negative and dangerous results.

It is Brad's assertion that participating in something like Big Mind is potentially very dangerous, but this is not based on the kind of concrete, extensive evidence that the assertion that doing crack is dangerous is based on. I haven't seen or heard of any evidence that BM is dangerous or harmful, or even that it's a "scam."

Brad made his point more clearly in the SG article--that based on his experience, any claim that one can get enlightened in that kind of rapid fashion is false--and I am sympathetic to this view myself. But as skeptical as I am of BM, I find Brad's tone about it to be almost hysterical.

For the sake of argument, let's say that there's nothing to BM at all, and therefore what Genpo is doing is no more than providing some mental entertainment, which possibly also has the capacity to be healing on some level (as it is based on a therapy technique), to spiritually disenfranchised yuppies for a weekend... So what?

I wonder if Brad's hysterical tone has to do with the traumatic experience he had of having been taken in by someone who did indeed turn out to be a dangerous scam artist, something he's referred to somewhat cryptically in his blog.

A Strange Day said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Strange Day said...

"I don't think I would like to work with any teacher that puts such clearly defined limits on reality and says - this is how it is. Period. It will never be diferent! Ever!"

Reality has limits. That's all there is to it. You can't live forever. You can't shoot laser beams from your eyes. You can't live without air, food and water, and you can't come the realization Gautama Buddha came to 2500 years ago "before lunchtime". This isn't speculation or being pessimistic. That's just how things are. You're fooling yourself to think any differently.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to point out the root cause
of homophobia:

it's all about anal sex.

Getting poo-poo on the pee-pee is just
gross!

Eeewwwwwww!

Administrator said...

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy"

:)

Even in Zen philosophy, maybe?

Jinzang said...

Enlightenment is seeing things as they are. The first step is seeing your mind as it is. To do that, you have to look at it. No one can tell you, any more than they can tell you what spinach tastes like. No seminar is going to convey this.

The reason why you can't see your mind as it is in a single day is that when you sit down and look at it, it jumps around too much. It takes time and practice to calm down your mind so that you can work with it.

And anyone who tells you different is either ignorant or out to cheat you.

Administrator said...

are you your mind?

Administrator said...

from a friend:

So a zen student does Big Mind, finds it of value , continues to be a zen student .
A zen student does Big Mind, does not find any value continues, to do zazen.
A zen student does Big Mind find it valuable, and never does zazen again.
It is all personal responcibilty

MikeDoe said...

jinzang:

"The first step is seeing your mind as it is. "

Are you sure about this? Is it something you believe? Is it some absolute truth that you have discovered? How can the mind see itself?

Is BM offering this? Is it offering something else?

It may be utter bullshit. I am reluctant to condemn it out of hand just because Brad or anyone else says that it is a bad thing.

That does not mean that it is something I would do or encourage. But I will not choose to dismiss someone as a crank, a madman or a shyster without very good reason.

Lone Wolf said...

Wow! 77 comments, this one might turn out to be a record breaker.

People sure do love controversy. It's interesting. When Brad occasionally writes one of these "controversial" posts, the comments and popularity of the blog goes through the roof.

Thank god Brad is not charging a $150 to show how people can experience enlightenment in one day. Because Dogen said, "Zazen is enlightenment its self."

Show a person how to sit in the correct posture and bam! Enlightenment.

But if Brad did decide to do taht. Then when people would experice the enlighenment their legs hurting and the bordem from facing the wall for a day without having some profound trippy experience, I could see them getting all pissed off and threating to sue.

Remember what Dogen said "Zazen is enlightenment itself," but don't be suprised if you don't start blissing out and have visions of suger plums and Lepreachans doing the riverdance while sprinkling gold fairy dust under the rainbow.

Now the second enlightment that happens after sitting for a long time, well, I don't know nothing about that, I guess you will have to sit everyday for a long period of time and experience that yourself.

But from what I here, it has nothing to do with trippy experiences or talking back to your thoughts (voices) in your head. I really don't see the benefit of talking back to your thoughts, the point of Zazen is to experience that thoughts are not reality, and that the experience of reality ,when one's automic nervous system becomes balanced, has nothing to do with intellectual consideration of thoughts or sense perception, but of acting at the present moment in the real world.

I think it maybe somewhat helpful when Brad writes one of these "controversial" posts and pisses everyone off. Because this way, they don't start putting him up on a pedastal and thinking he is some special Zen Master who can give them enlightment before lunchtime.

Just my thoughts!

Jared said...

Brad,

I completely agree with you - and with what lala said. The butt-buddy thing was homophobic and doesn't have a place in the post. Again, like lala said, I really don't think you meant it that way, but that's what it means.

P.S. You should totally make a banner for your blog with your face superimposed over Charleton Heston as the "Zen Cowboy". AND YOU SHOULD START A PODCAST!

nobody said...

To clarify, I'm not advocating "talking back to the voices"; if I'm advocating anything, it's the value of simply listening to and noticing what is already there, and using it as a skillful means for loosening the grip of self. We usually don't recognize the presence of enlightened awareness that already exists within us, and to recognize that it does, and that it speaks to and through us, is something that has been helpful in my own experience.

Hamza said...

Buttbuddy homophobic? Come off it.

Jinzang said...

Oh, people are asking me questions. I feel so important.

are you your mind?

No, I am not.

I said, "The first step is seeing your mind as it is." and was asked.

Are you sure about this?

Reasonably sure.

Is it something you believe? Is it some absolute truth that you have discovered?

You see your mind first because it's what's closest to you. Understanding mind comes first, then thoughts and emotions, and then phenomena. I didn't discover this, this is how mahamudra, the style of meditation I practice, is presented. I've done enough of the practice to be reasonably certain that what the texts say is correct. And I trust my teacher.

How can the mind see itself?

I could give a cute answer, but the truth is that seeing the mind is a little difficult to explain because its different than seeing thoughts or outer phenomena. It can't be expressed in words, which is why you can't learn it at a seminar. It's called seeing because, like seeing, it's not conceptual. It's just mind resting in itself.

I'm not condemning Big Mind. I'm just saying that the only way to see the mind is to look at the mind. And that takes time because our attention slips off very easily.

Jinzang said...

How can the mind see itself?

I should add that my teacher uses the analogy of a finger touching itself or like the tongue tasting itself. Or, I suppose you add, like the sound of one hand clapping.

Waylon said...

I didn't know that butt-buddy was so offensive.....does this mean that I have to quit using the term "butt rock" as well. I mean spandex and makeup might have been a little gay but that's not what I mean when I say it.

Administrator said...

why would you want to see your mind? What's so interesting about it?
Wouldn't it be better to see beyond mind? Isn't that where the Budha Nature/God/Whatever is to be found?
And if so, and I am resonably sure that I am not my mind either, what's there to stop me from simply puting my mind aside for a moment, or again simply choosing to see beyond it? And why does it absolutely, definitely, with no doubts, no discussion have to take 20 years of practice?

Anonymous said...

There's little discussion about the precept that calls on us to safeguard the three treasures of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha

It seems very much a matter of protecting the three treasures to speak out when someone in a position of teaching authority is presenting something that looks like Zen but actually deviates from it and misrepresents the tradition.

Its also a matter of safeguarding the sangha to get the word out if someone has a documented track record of behaving in ways that are harmful.

No one accuses the state road management of perpetrating wrong speech when they put up signs and plastic cones warning of pot holes and road hazards.

You're free to keep on driving your car and ignore those signs, but there are plenty of us out there who want to get somewhere and not land in a pothole--and do appreciate signs being posted.

Anonymous said...

I think what is going on here, Brad sees awakening through his own experience.
The body mind connection, is very real, to sit facing a wall for years with eyes open and no sleepiness, is like being a Navy Seal, you have overcome incredible resistance to achieve this state of mind, no day dreams, no wandering around thoughts ,,just being present looking at a wall, going against everything that describes self preservation.
The result is a commando type of awareness, that transcends self as we think of it.
A amazing state of mind, but is it enlightenment or self being transcended.
To know the self is to go past and forget the self , there is a school of thought Advaita
that through reasoning a person can become awakened.
Big Mind might be a true school that already existed, in some other form, when one answers a koan, they transcend the mind, in Big Mind, one is led to see through aspects of the mind. Is it enlightenment, maybe with a small e. There is a process in Zen schools where koans are studied together, not just a lone exercise.
But it isn’t the commando type of mind of some Zen schools.
The result is gentle awareness and clarity, a sense of inner peace, from not struggling with reality any more.

Flynbuddha said...
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David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Homophobia means you are afraid of homosexuality.

What is there to be afraid of?

Human beings? Yikes!

MikeDoe said...

jinzang:
That is a good answer. ISTR that you were from NKT and have given an answer from that viewpoint. It is now clear that your statement is a belief with a reasonable basis.

I also happen to disagree with it somewhat but that is incidental.

To go with your analogy I cannot actually make a finger touch itself physically, I can instead have one finger touch another. I can have the simulteanous sensation of a finger being touched and a finger touching.

When you try and look at the mind I think there is a problem. The perception of mind is itself a construct - it has no reality. I can dissect my brain and wherever I look I cannot find mind.

When I perceive mind there is something that is perceived and something that is the perceiver. If perceived and the perceiver are the same then surely the mind must have constructed both - it has imagined something to perceive and some way to perceive it but it is another mirage.

Now in the context of Big Mind (of which I repeat I not necessarily an advocte).

The style of meditation that I have done most is called Vipassana. It is attempting to pay attention without the mind/Ego being in the loop. It is attempting to perceive without the inner commentary. It is a long-term practice to get anywhere with it.

However, there are plenty of everyday situations where it is possible for the Ego to step aside and for things to be perceived and interacted with as one. It is not that unusual. We call it "Flow" or "Being in the Zone". Times of intense stress can also cause the Ego to take a back seat.

Trauma can also fragment the ego into several different personalities not all of which are accessible.

In everyday life people can effectively have several different personalities - Boss, father, lover which are all aspects of the true self.

So, it is easy enough to argue that what we perceive as the Ego is a lot more flexible and a lot less stable than we would like to imagine.

Since Vipassana works and since the Ego is a flexible thing the claim that BM is a technique that allows you TEMPORARILY to put the ego to one side does in fact seem reasonable.

I AM NOT SAYING that BM can in fact do this. I just want to make the point that the claim seems reasonable.

Psychology as a science is less than a few hundred years old and is largely useless. There is however a huge body of knowledge being built up that is converging scientifically with Buddhism.

Given that Buddhism is old and Psychology is new it would not be unreasonable if someone had managed to create some technique drawing on aspects of both.

Remember, all BM is offering is a fleeting glimpse. There is a good chance however that IF the technique is real and IF it is psychologically stable then the technique could offer a cognition based approach which is different from the intuition based approach that pervades Buddhism.

There are a lot of Ifs....

Jinzang said...

why would you want to see your mind? What's so interesting about it? Wouldn't it be better to see beyond mind? Isn't that where the Budha Nature/God/Whatever is to be found?

There are two kinds of truths. The first kind is facts and figures. This kind if truth can be about anything: exalted stuff like God or mundane stuff like what you had for lunch. The second kind is experiential truth. Odd as it may seem, we are strangers to our own mind. The purpose of meditation is to give us an experiential understanding of it.

And if so, and I am reasonably sure that I am not my mind either, what's there to stop me from simply puting my mind aside for a moment, or again simply choosing to see beyond it?

How are you going to put aside your mind without using your mind?

And why does it absolutely, definitely, with no doubts, no discussion have to take 20 years of practice?

Meditation is learning something new and that takes some time to accomplish. How much time depends on various factors, but definitely more than a weekend.

Jinzang said...

That is a good answer. ISTR that you were from NKT and have given an answer from that viewpoint.

Actually I practice in the Kagyu tradition, not NKT. My main teacher is Khenpo Karthar.

When you try and look at the mind I think there is a problem. The perception of mind is itself a construct - it has no reality. I can dissect my brain and wherever I look I cannot find mind.

Even if you understand this intellectually, on a gut level we act as if we have a self. It's like having a phobia. The intellectual understanding that there's nothing to fear will not resolve the problem.

Since Vipassana works and since the Ego is a flexible thing the claim that BM is a technique that allows you TEMPORARILY to put the ego to one side does in fact seem reasonable.

Is ego going to put ego aside? The language of putting is as suspect as the language of seeing is. If you had a phobia, could you temporarily put it aside? It might not manifest at a particular time, but it's still there. The phobia is an integral part of how you see the world. Same with ego.

Anyway, looking for temporary fixes is part of the problem. It's not our thoughts that need to be fixed, it's the fixer that needs to be seen.

Web Zen! said...

Number 6 of the Ten Prohibitive Precepts - Do not speak ill of others.

Number 7 of the Ten Prohibitive Precepts - Do not praise yourself above others (or blame others).

Reading through the various blogs here by Mr. Warner - the Zen Master, I'm somewhat dismayed at his attitude, use of colourful language, a flippant disregard for the beliefs and opinions of others. I thought Buddhists were peaceful and pacifist?

This site was pointed out to me by a student of mine in grade 10, who had quoted some of the strangely un-Buddhist remarks made here.

Perhaps you sir, should put an age restriction on your site or a strong language warning.

And please, lift yourself above street talk if you really wish to be taken seriously.

Prof Wes said...

Well... happy birthday!!!

Prof Wes said...

I thought Buddhists were peaceful and pacifist?

Peaceful and pacifist... but not stupid.

Eastern Zen might let BS roll over it with nary a comment, but Western Zen obviously does not.

ZenManDan said...

Oh no! Brad used some bad words and a homophoic slur. We should take him out behind the shed and shoot him.

Seriously people...if you're offended by what Brad writes, DON'T READ IT! If you don't like the language he uses, don't read it.

I like to read Brad's blogs for what they are, his opinions. No one, including Brad, has ever said that his blogs and everything in them are fact. They're simply a bunch of words for us to read based on his own experiences and that of his teachers...his/their opinions.

Concerning the current topic, it's rather simple, really. If you don't agree with Brad about BM, and are curious about it, then go check it out for yourself. Merry Christmas to you...have a great time. I wish you all the best. If you agree with him, you won't be going to BM, so, good for you too.

As far as the words used in Brad's writings; butt buddy, horseshit, or the occasional fuck...they're words. Just words. As Shantideva writes in "Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life", "Contempt, harsh words, and unpleasant speech do not harm the body; so why, mind, do you become so angry?" Brad and the words he uses are not the cause of your unhappiness...you are. You CHOOSE whether or not you're going to be bothered by his words. As Buddha said, "All fear and infinite sufferings arise from the mind." Just let it go folks.

I started my own blog recently. Feel free to check it out at
http://zenramblings.blogspot.com/

Daniel said...

David, Fantasy is cheap. Come back when you've had an actual dick in your mouth.

ZenManDan, words do not make me angry, nor even unhappy. All I am doing is pointing out the backwards morals of this culture, which say it is just fine to speak badly of gays. They have been the last ones in this culture to gain respect and I cannot continue to let that happen.

"How you treat the least of these, you treat me." - J.C.

Administrator said...

"How are you going to put aside your mind without using your mind?"

by realizing that I'm not my mind.

It's me (as who I am really) that's looking - not my mind.

It's me that decides to look beyond - not at the mind.

Mind has nothing to do with it.

I will simply decide what to focus on - I can focus on my mind or on who I am beyond mind. It's a simple decision.

Michael Richards said...

"I’m sure Genpo and his butt-buddy Ken Wilber will end up on Oprah before then."

"You never know what’s gonna come out when you start letting all the barriers down and just say whatever happens to pop into your head.

~~~ Brad Warner

shrack said...

I think it's time to take a reality check.

The precepts according to Nishijima Roshi.


No.6: Don't discuss failures of Buddhist priests and laymen. As Buddhists we try our best to live and practice the Buddhist life. In doing so we often make mistakes. This is natural. Our mistakes come directly from our efforts. This may sound strange, but it is the fact in our life. So when we see the mistakes of others we should not be critical, for their mistakes are only the product of their efforts in this life.


No.7: Don't praise yourself or berate others. Modern psychology tells us that most of us have some sort of superiority or inferiority complex. I think this is basically true, and because of these personal inclinations we are prone to praise or criticize ourselves and other people. But we are all human beings. If we recognize the true situation it is impossible to blame others for their faults, and praising ourselves is needless − it is a waste of breath.

shrack said...

The precepts as Gudo Nishijima understands them. From Dogen Sangha and Windbell Publications.


No.6: Don't discuss failures of Buddhist priests and laymen. As Buddhists we try our best to live and practice the Buddhist life. In doing so we often make mistakes. This is natural. Our mistakes come directly from our efforts. This may sound strange, but it is the fact in our life. So when we see the mistakes of others we should not be critical, for their mistakes are only the product of their efforts in this life.


No.7: Don't praise yourself or berate others. Modern psychology tells us that most of us have some sort of superiority or inferiority complex. I think this is basically true, and because of these personal inclinations we are prone to praise or criticize ourselves and other people. But we are all human beings. If we recognize the true situation it is impossible to blame others for their faults, and praising ourselves is needless − it is a waste of breath.

daniel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan said...

"How are you going to put aside your mind without using your mind?"

by realizing that I'm not my mind.

It's me (as who I am really) that's looking - not my mind.

It's me that decides to look beyond - not at the mind.

Mind has nothing to do with it.

I will simply decide what to focus on - I can focus on my mind or on who I am beyond mind. It's a simple decision. "

lol at the stupid hippy.... they really never learn.

also about this whole ' dont criticise buddhists' as has been mentioned (but largely ignored) before, anyone who has read even the first chapter of shobogenzo will know that dogen is just as scathing towards the bullshit of his time as brad is today. it's no contradiction, he's just folllowing in his tradition. sometimes you just have to call shit shit.

Dan said...

the other hilarious thing about schrack bringing up precept no.6 is that by doing that in the context you have done you are violating that precept since you are in fact discussing brad's failure as a buddhist. and now i've violated it as well. doh.

i'll sum up with my favourite jesus quote,

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

shrack said...

Dan, I knew the danger of the post. I brought the precepts up not as a criticism of Brad but as a criticism of all of us (myself included) who are judging good and bad when there are so many better things to do. Anyway, I got suckered into the discussion I'll shut up now..and just sit.

Esmerelda said...

To all who do not like Brad's style - maybe you should go read someone's site. I like that he writes with a punk attitude. I am interested in doing Zen and learning about it. I find this style easier to understand than the more traditional ways of presenting the matterial.

I am amazed that this BM stuff is controversial on this site. I expected it at SG. Brad is supposed to teach Zen and he is. Some of the readers are obviously not that interested in Zen. While others like Jinzang, Lone Wolf, some anonymouses and too many others to name check, are very knowledgeable and thoughtful. It is very helpful to me to read their posts.

Frankly the temptation to suggest a book on self hypnosis and a few good drugs to those who want a short cut is over whelming. There are a lot of quick ways to achieve altered states of mind. Since I didn't take any kind of vow, I will suggest it - try enough acid or mushrooms and your mind will melt right out of your head. I promise this will happen and you do not even have to send me $150. I know because I thought it was fun at one time. You may think you are enlightened. This is simply not Zen.

As for enlightenment, Brad has in the past denied its existence. Frankly he is going for boring here way more than controversial. It is very unlikely that he is making money or cares about it.

liam said...

look, let's cut to the chase.. brad is funny and thought provoking.. this last post has way over a hundred comments. it is not because he is beseeching us with some dry piece about human love and kindness. if he did that we would all would take it somewhere else. sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. sorry.

Anonymous said...

Dogen's chapter about people that disrespect women that have obtained realization or whatever cadgy phrase he uses are quite harsh and quite funny. Sort of like this.

Butt-buddy I think is a bit offensive. However, it is language that lot's of gay men use, and it is a shame to strip language of all the color. And Wilbur and Genpo are a bit much; did anyone read "The Guru and the Pandit" in the very funny "What Is Enlightenment?" magazine? I was like, please, get a private stall.

Anonymous said...

Shoot, I had that wrong, it was Wilbur and Cohen in WIE. Well, without such a public display of affection, the offensive of butt-buddy rises. Is there some similar published thing between Genpo and Wilbur? (The WIE article is at:
http://www.wie.org/j25/guruPandit.asp)

magik said...

Hey guys, click here if you want to waste 10 mins of your life;
Ken wilber stops his brain waves
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFFMtq5g8N4&mode=related&search=

Jinzang said...

I will simply decide what to focus on - I can focus on my mind or on who I am beyond mind. It's a simple decision.

One of the first things you figure out when you sit down to meditate is that you can't focus on a thought simply by deciding to do so.

gunderloy said...

I'll bet Brad can stop his brain waves faster than Ken. Ken also did it laying on his back which is the way a guy who is maybe a little light in the loafers would do it. I also liked the way he ended the demonstration by saying, "I hope you enjoyed the show." That was cool.

Jared said...

Whoah! Everyone needs to relax! All of this arguing over semantics and this and that reminds me of the sub-title to the Flapping Mouths blog. I think that sums this all up.

As for the butt-buddy fiasco, I think the bottom line is that yeah, words are just convenient reference points for common-held ideas blah blah blah blah - "butt-buddy", a euphemism for gay sex, when used as an insult, implies that there's something wrong with gay sex. Myself and a few others were just pointing out that we disagree with that sentiment. Problem solved, because there's no problem.

Deliciously Large said...

I don't like the term Butt-buddy personally.

I prefer Poo-pusher or Poo-prodder it's more to the point.

Anonymous said...

"As far as the words used in Brad's writings; butt buddy, horseshit, or the occasional fuck...they're words. Just words. As Shantideva writes in "Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life", "Contempt, harsh words, and unpleasant speech do not harm the body; so why, mind, do you become so angry?" Brad and the words he uses are not the cause of your unhappiness...you are. You CHOOSE whether or not you're going to be bothered by his words. As Buddha said, "All fear and infinite sufferings arise from the mind." Just let it go folks."

Do you then encourage children to read and use this type of language then? Is it all right for a child of 13 to walk around saying fuck this and fuck that?

Wake up to yourself.

magik said...

"I prefer Poo-pusher or Poo-prodder it's more to the point."

Don't you mean fudge packer?

Dan said...

anonymous,

swearing 13 year olds don't particularly bother me no.

Dan said...

and no he's not saying he encourages 13 year olds to swear he's just making the point that it's up to you whether you get offended by swearing 13 year olds (or in this case zen masters).

swearing is gonna happen no matter how morally outraged you get about it so it's just easier not to mind so much when you hear it. but there is no logical connection between that position and actually actively going around 'promoting swearing' or whatever the fuck you were talking about.

nobody said...

No.6: Don't discuss failures of Buddhist priests and laymen. As Buddhists we try our best to live and practice the Buddhist life. In doing so we often make mistakes. This is natural. Our mistakes come directly from our efforts. This may sound strange, but it is the fact in our life. So when we see the mistakes of others we should not be critical, for their mistakes are only the product of their efforts in this life.

Nishijima-Roshi is awesome. This is one of the most compassionate, grounded, sane things I have read in a long time... anyone have a link to his versions / comments on all ten precepts?

Jordan & The Tortoise said...

Nobody,

You can find what you are looking for here.

http://www.dogensangha.org/articles.htm

Be well
Jordan

Anatman said...

Ann Coulter must have read this blog and been impressed by the amount of publicity that can be generated with a single derogatory slur towards homosexuals.

She calls John Edwards "fag" and the next thing you know, she is on the front page of every paper.

Ah, marketing and PR. Gotta love it.

Deliciously Large said...

"Don't you mean fudge packer?"

What's fudge?

POO-PUSHER kinda rolls off the tongue, two P's. Sounds better.

Anonymous said...

And, for the other half,
let's not forget the
wonderfully evocative term

"rug-muncher"

Anonymous said...

"All I am doing is pointing out
the backwards morals of this
culture, which say it is just
fine to speak badly of gays.
They have been the last ones in
this culture to gain respect and
I cannot continue to let that
happen.

'How you treat the least of
these, you treat me.' - J.C."

hello daniel (from *way* above),

On the societal totem pole,
below gays, below even
Rodney Dangerfield, you'll find
nonviolent drug-users. Two thirds
of US prisons are filled with
them. An incredible injustice
and an incredible waste of
taxpayer money. Why is this so?
To protect black-market profit
margins.

Does this have anything to do with
"Zen"? Only if you're interested
in seeing clearly and in
minimizing the suffering of
sentient (human) beings.

Okay, I think that pretty much
covers everything but the
kitchen sink. Gotta go sit now.

ohayou gozaimasu!

Waylon said...

ANYONE ELSE IN CALIFORNIA?

I've glanced at a couple of profiles, and locations aren't always listed. I'm interested in talking to other folks from California that might be interested in ride shares or places to crash in LA for Brad's seshins and things like that. It would also be really cool if there was anyone else in the Bay area that was interested in getting together and sitting, bullshitting or maybe catching a show or something.

Also if I met any of you in November at the mini seshin please contact me, I didn't get anyones info and I met some really cool people. I was the guy that rode his motorcycle down from Oakland with his girlfriend. I wish I could have hung out a little longer.

I would like to talk to folks that might be interested in trying to organize a 3 day seshin or maybe a full day seshin. If there is real interest in something like that I'm sure that Brad would be into it.

Thanks

waylonlove@gmail.com

magik said...

"POO-PUSHER kinda rolls off the tongue, two P's. Sounds better."

I don't like you.

Anonymous said...

I like to read Brad's blogs for what they are, his opinions. No one, including Brad, has ever said that his blogs and everything in them are fact. They're simply a bunch of words for us to read based on his own experiences and that of his teachers...his/their opinions.

So words of the Gempo Roshi are to be taken seriously, but when Brad talks it's just words, no offence to anyone?

First thing you will learn if you train with good zen teacher is that you should be serious in everything you do. Everything you do matters. Don't just fool around. Put everything you have into what you are doing. I assume that Brad tries to put himself into his writings and teach buddha-dharma. He has some refreshing writing skills but still I find lots of immaturity in his writing. Kind of fundamentalist thinking. Not hardcore, but fundamentalist in negative sense. If he ever gets his own students, they most likely are going to be bunch of same minding people (because Brad mixes his personal views into buddha-dharma freely). I'm afraid that this kind of proud attitude associated with zen can screw up things in long run.

Btw. I agree mostly with him in this BigMind thing, but as Brad writes, people who follow Gempo Roshi deserve him in good and bad. There is no need to shout higher than others and try to join public "spiritual market". Just saying "I do not endorse" or "We do not do that." is enough. This applies especially to things you only read from internet.

I wrote this comment, because I think Brad reads these and is in learning mode. Bread is important. I think it is important that I spend time commenting. I tried my best to express my opinion, but most likely failed.

Empty Mirror said...

I have attended a Big Mind session. I actually went because I read what Brad had said in an earlier article about Big Mind, and thought it would be interesting to have a look for myself, and then found the Big Mind "roadshow" was coming to town a month or so later.

Having been, I'm not sure why it provokes such objections. If it's the cost, well, the hall has to be paid for, people's travel expenses paid, and there appears to be the possibility of concessions for those who can't afford it.

As for the "Big Mind" process, it was quite interesting. I'd do it again. I learnt some stuff, and learning is good, 'coz I don't know everything. But as for attaining enlightenment, good grief! I didn't leave feeling that I'd "attained" "enlightenment", or "attained" anything else (though I had a nice sandwich) nor was I told that I should feel that. And while I can't speak for everyone there I'd be astonished if anyone else there thought that. I went back home and sat on my cushion.

I do enjoy Brad's writing. Thanks Brad.

EM.

Paul said...

"All I am doing is pointing out
the backwards morals of this
culture, which say it is just
fine to speak badly of gays."

I've sat back and listened to this farce, but come on, you've got be kidding?? That's a joke, right?

Does anyone really think that Brad had homosexual men in mind when he made the 'butt-buddy' comment?

That may be where the phrase is originally derived from, and I don't know about where you guys live, but from where I come from, that term is never used to describe gay men (actually, in England it's rarely 'butt-buddy', but 'bum-chum'...same thing). It's most often used to describe people who brown-nose each other, and anyone who understands that term will know that it's not a homophobic remark at all.

In fact, it's this extreme political correctness that is making a farce of our society. People picking and choosing at words they don't like without even considering the context in which they're used. I'm not sure about America, but here in England you can't call a blackboard a blackboard anymore. It's racist...apparently. Yeah, like someone was thinking 'yeehaw, this'll show them dang niggers!' when they named it a blackboard. It obviously wasn't anything to do with the fact that it was a board which happened to be black, solely because that color was practical for writing on with chalk...

Can we get back to Zen, please?

Anonymous said...

Someone who posted here as "Empty Mirror" reports that they attended a "Big Mind Process" event, found benefit in it, would do it again, and did not leave the event feeling that they had attained enlightenment, "nor was I told that I should feel that. And while I can't speak for everyone there I'd be astonished if anyone else there thought that."

The issue that Brad addresses in his Suicide Girls essay has to do with claims made by Ken Wilber and Genpo Roshi that the "Big Mind Process" is a more or less instant means of attaining kensho, satori, or enlightenment.

Before I quote them on that, I want to mention that a couple of years ago I listened to an audio at Genpo's website, of him being interviewed on a radio program about his "Big Mind Process." At one point he led the woman interviewing him through a presumably shortened version of the process. He then told her that she'd just realized what the Buddha realized as he sat under the Bodhi Tree. I just about threw up on my computer keyboard.

Dennis "Genpo Roshi" Merzel is part of an organization founded by Ken Wilber called Integral Institute. Ken Wilber has a blog where he has posted his foreword to a forthcoming book by Genpo. (Brad provides a link to the foreword in his Suicide Girls essay.)

In it, Wilber says, as Brad quotes him: "It often takes five years or more of extremely difficult practice (I know, I’ve done it) in order for a profound satori to occur. With the Big Mind™ Process, a genuine kensho can occur in about an hour—seriously."

Brad also quotes Genpo himself, saying that by using his technique--the "Big Mind Process"--"you will have in one day — before lunch actually — the clarity and experience that a Zen master has. But Zen is seen as the school of sudden enlightenment. And we're just making sure it remains sudden."

We live in a consumer culture, a culture of celebrity, where news about Anna Nicole Smith overshadows news about the scores of human beings who are killed, maimed, disfigured, and otherwise injured and wounded in Iraq on a daily basis, as well as a lot of other news that serves to highlight the Buddha's "First Noble Truth." We live in a culture of distraction and stimulation. It seems that many people in our culture are running as fast as they can away from anything that represents discomfort and dissatisfaction.

As sociologist George Ritzer writes in his book The McDonaldization of Society, we live in a society where everything is "McDonaldized." (To get a sense of exactly what he means by this, on can look up Ritzer and McDonaldization on the web.)

It seems to me that what Wilber and Genpo are offering is part of a trend which can accurately be characterized as McSpirituality. In his blog post here, Brad comments that perhaps at some point Wilber and Genpo will end up on Oprah. I am sure that Oprah is a positive figure for some and perhaps many people, but those of us who are capable of discriminating can surely see that there is a difference between the Oprah-Chopra version of spirituality and, say, Dogen.

Brad's unique function at this time is apparently to cut through a lot of bullshit (a messy but necessary process that punk rockers were known for doing back in the day) and for appealing to people with a sensibility similar to his. (Generally speaking, I would not expect to find the same people who attend operas in tuxedos and gowns also attending hardcore rock concerts in street clothes, though I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule.)

Brad has gotten a lot of feedback here that some of his verbiage is offensive to some, and a review of the posts here so far makes it obvious that Brad's verbiage distracts from his message. His message, like so much of his message in Hardcore Zen, is all about cutting through bullshit.

Empty Mirror (the poster I refer to above) apparently did not feel that he or she was handed a bowl of bullshit when he or she attended the "Big Mind Process" event. However, the fact remains that Ken Wilber and Genpo Roshi have made statements to the effect that this process leads to instant kensho or satori or enlightenment, and in our consumer culture this is tantamount to promoting a "Happy Meal." It's McDonaldization, McSpirituality, McZen, and that is far more vulgar than anything Brad has ever said in his efforts to grab people's attention.

There are two issues here:

1) Is there any technique that can produce kensho, satori, or enlightenment in an hour or "before lunch"?

2) Does it even make sense to speak of "enlightenment" in such terms?

Brad has made his point quite clear (in his Suicide Girls essay): "Enlightenment — the very word makes me cringe at this point — is a process that necessarily involves maturation over time."

If Brad is right about this, and I think he is, then it literally makes no sense at all for Ken Wilber and Dennis "Genpo Roshi" Merzel to promote the "Big Mind Process" by implying or stating outright that it will give one kensho, satori, or enlightenment in an hour.

I think Brad is doing good work, and will continue to do so as long as he continues to remain open to the feedback he gets from his readers and adjusts his communication accordingly.

Jared said...

I think Paul is right. I don't believe anyone here is under the impression that Brad harbors anti-gay sentiments. Even if he did, those are just his opinions, as is everything else on this blog INCLUDING his thoughts about Big Mind.

I guess the term butt-buddy means a lot of things to a lot of people, and I really don't think Brad was out to offend anyone, let alone the gay community, when he used the term. I do think it's funny that everyone and his brother is off commenting on this blog, but Brad is probably sitting quietly somewhere (no pun intended haha) minding his own business.

Plus, Brad opposing Big Mind and drugs as alternative methods to zen practice is nothing new. I seem to recall him posting that article on the old Hardcore Zen site almost a year back or so, maybe more. Why all the fuss now?

If anyone wants to check out my blog, that'd be awesome. I just started it, so it's a little bare -
http://heavymetalzen.blogspot.com

MikeDoe said...

anon:
You make a lot of very valid points.

To some extent BM is a marketing exercise. There is a massive difference between 'can' and 'will'.

Maybe it can for some, but so can a pebble on a bamboo stick.

Is it likely? That's a whole other question.

UncaDan said...

If you understand, things are just as they are. If you don't understand, things are just as they are.

-Zen Koan

There is no lake so still that it has no wave; No circle so perfect that it has no blur. I would change things for you if I could as I can't, you must take them as they are.

-Han Fei Tzu

All effort must be made by you; buddhas only show the way.

-The Dhammapada 17:221

The kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourself, then you become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you will dwell in poverty, and it is you who are that poverty.

-Gospel of John 3

It's not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.

-Agnes Repplier

The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the spirit.

-John 3:9

That you may have pleasure in everything, seek pleasure in nothing. That you may know everything, seek to know nothing. That you may possess all things, seek to posses nothing. That you may be everything, seek to be nothing.

-St. John of the Cross

Truth is one; the sages speak of it by many names.

-The Vedas

In my opinion the only true enlightenment is the realization that there is no enlightenment to attain.

Waylon said...

"Butt-chum"? Eeewww....that sounds like something that you attract sharks with.....and watch out bro, someone might misconstrue that whole "brown nosing" comment as gay bashing as well. LOL.

Does anyone remember that kids in the hall skit where the gay dude is dressed up as an old lady and complains about how homosexuals had ruined the english language?

Anonymous said...

I don't think brad is anti-homosexual, I just think he feels that men having sex with men is laughable. That is a subjective matter.

A Strange Day said...

Also, there is a copy of Loori's "True Dharma Eye" in my university's library which I've looked through pretty extensively. It really is terrible. The commentary is so pretentious and tries to be so "Zen" that it's worthless, and even incomprehensible at times. Loori also writes a little verse after each koan which tends to be even more incomprehensible than the commentary. Brad isn't just being mean here: Nishijima's translation is ridiculously better.

Lone Wolf said...

So that damn "Cake" song suprisingly manifested itself in my Zazen today. Brad wasn't lying lol.

Anonymous said...

What do you people think enlightenment is? A state of altered brain chemistry for a few seconds? minutes? days? a lifetime?

No, it's Wisdom. You have it, I have it and if you go to a Big Mind workshop you will see that EVERYBODY has it. You will hear people speaking the innate wisdom we all have access to, when we leave the ego perspective aside -- even people who have never spent a minute in meditation, already know everything they need to know. Wisdom and compassion are the true pearls of spiritual practice and your website is knocking, very prejudiciously and without any valid evidence, a upaya that puts people quickly in touch with their own innate wisdom and compassion.

Anonymous said...

Bravo Bravo Bravo

zenair said...

Finally right on

Jared said...

I think the point that some people here are trying to make is that even if Big Mind or any other device gives you the same insight as some sort of satori or enlightenment (if you believe in that sort of thing), it is still lacking compared to zazen. What that device can never give you is the patience, dedication, and discipline to put to practice that wisdom that you gain, which Zen seems to do a good job of doing. It seems sort of like giving someone all of the right answers to a test, versus someone studying (assuming the machine does anything). Theoretically, both will get high scores on the test. But the person who studied will better know how to apply that knowledge than the person who only knows the answer.

That's how I see it, anyway. All of the above depends, though, on whether or not the machine does anything. I think some people here are pointing that out, and that things claiming to give you the quickest pay off are often scams and this may be no different. In that instance it's better to just stick with zen.

Jinzang said...

your website is knocking, very prejudiciously and without any valid evidence, a upaya that puts people quickly in touch with their own innate wisdom and compassion.

Have you heard the koan, "Whatever comes through the front gate cannot be the family heirloom?"

gniz said...

Jared,

VERY GOOD point, I think. Sure, Big Mind might provide someone with a glimpse of how their mind has all these different thoughts, voices, or whatever. So what?

"Enlightenment", "satori," "kensho"...these words are just pornographic titilation for spiritual seekers hungry for their next fix.

A great deal of these people going to Big Mind may never have even meditated before, so its possible that simply seeing the many voices of the mind is new and exciting.

A lot of us got high the first few times we meditated. Who the hell gives a shit if they get some kensho experience after an hour? And then they'll STILL be pissed off in traffic on the way home.

www.gangstazen.blogspot.com

zenair said...

Very well said Jared, but you don't stop sitting because of the result. Perhaps you sit with a mind
not chasing it self.

Brad said...

I don't usually post here. But I can't resist making this 150 comments. Besides, I dug up the quote by John Daido Loori about Big Mind. It's from an article called "Genpo Roshi's Big Mind." The author & original source are not on the copy I have. Here's what it says:

"Zen teaching is like fishing," says John Daido Loori, the abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery, dharma brother to Genpo Roshi and author of numerous books including, Making Love with Light (Daido Roshi is my teacher and has a much more traditional approach to practice than does Genpo Roshi. I'd asked him what he thought of Genpo Roshi's less traditional method). "Every fishernan has a technique. Some use flies, some lures, some bait. The key is to get the student hooked. Genpo Roshi uses the Big Mind process. I use the Arts, and Tetsugen (Bernie Glassman) uses social action. What counts is what happens when the student gets hooked. Genpo Roshi has shown, through the strength of his successors, that he is good at the essential part of Zen training. His successors are excellent."

*****

There you have it. Although I'm not really sure just what Daido is saying here. It's not quite as supportive as I'd recalled. In fact, it may be an obtuse way of saying he doesn't support BM. It's impossible to know. Which may be the problem (see my March 7 article).

Brad said...

Wait! The author of the piece I just quoted was John Kain. It's at the end of the print-out. Still don't know the original source.

Anonymous said...

Finally!! After 2000+ years of extensive, life long meditation someone finds the magic potion for enlightenment in just a few hours. Poor Siddharta. Poor Bodhidharma. And all the other countless Buddhist practioners that have totally missed out on this quick fix enlightenment. Right.

Alan Gregory Wonderwheel said...

Brad's honesty is refreshing. His saying "Although I'm not really sure just what Daido is saying here." is enough to explain why he -Brad- also doesn't have a clue what Genpo Roshi is doing either.

When you don't know what is going on, it is best to not comment at all. Brad only makes himself look like a fool to comment in the way he does about Genpo Roshi's work.

Anonymous said...

re: Loori's quote on the BM process

I'd say that what Daido is getting at is that it's just another way to get people into practicing zazen, which is something that Genpo has an irrefutable history of doing.

If Genpo actually came out and said: "Do this and you don't need to sit any longer," I'd guess there would be a loud "WTF!" from the Maezumi lineage.

Anyway, no one is perfect in their execution - not Brad, Merzel, Loori, Maezumi, Nishijima etc.
All of them are full of shit in one way or another (as are we all).

IMO it's their best intentions that count, the 3 pure precepts and all of that...

_wesmiller_ said...

we were born on the same day.
neato frito

Anonymous said...

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Vegar said...

There's a couple of things I'd like to add to this discussion - Genpo Roshi was actually more "hardcore" in his practice than Brad Warner will most likely ever be. Who else here has sat for 35 years? And out of those, 8-10 hours a day for ten years and three three-month angos one year. When it comes to a pure sitting track record there are very few people that come close to Genpo Roshi.

That of course doesn't say anything about Big Mind, but it is an interesting thing to consider before you make a solid judgement.

I've actually spent quite a lot of time with Genpo Roshi, and he's never said that sitting isn't necessary. He doesn't say that it is necessary either. But rather that some people prefer Big Mind, others sitting and some like both. I'm one of the latter, but even in Genpo Roshi's sangha there are those who prefer to sit over lots of Big Mind.

When it comes to the claim that "enlightenment is guaranteed", what actually says is that it's more like a helicopter ride over the territory, where one can touch down different places and get a feel for the path ahead, but it doesn't mean that you don't have to walk it.

And there are as many ways to practice as there are people, so let's go a little easy on one another...

Anonymous said...

Hey Brad, dude, if you actually went to the trouble to understand what you are criticizing two things would happen. First, your writing would loose that vitriolic, nasty, holier-than-thou sound and second, you're criticism might just have something meaningful to say. Funny, this was the first post of yours I have read, and it will be the last. Have a nice life.

Henke said...

"When it comes to a pure sitting track record there are very few people that come close to Genpo Roshi."

LOL, having trained with Genpo for over a decade, I'd say there is a long list of people that are far more ethical and for that matter have something of worth to impart that Genpo hasn't had for a long, long time. I certainly wouldn't hold up coming "close" to Genpo as any standard. The man used to be a good teacher but sold out, slept with students, went for the fast buck and hasn't been a real Zen teacher for years. Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

I don’t know who this Genpo dude is and frankly I care not. But a couple of things spring to this small mind.

Firstly NO ONE can give “you” enlightenment, considering it’s not a thing to be given, and there is no “one” to receive it. Although they’re certainly appears to be. And I don’t mind anyone going with all his or her might for said prize.

Now onto another little existential error...a week, a day, a weekend, a life time of zazen, one million reincarnations where you sit on your fat ass wont give it to YOU.

Not an instant of time is required for the universe to be what it always already IS.

Your Isness is the IS that IS and the only IS there is.

Mistakenly cutting and dividing isness into objects each now endowed by your knife like mind with there own independent existence in no way makes any difference to the undifferentiated nature of what is.

joe koudelka said...

effing eh to the isness dude. dice it or slice it, just this, this, this, this,.... cause and effect over and over, oh-oh! there it goes again!

Anonymous said...

I have observed the "Big Mind" process and can confirmed it has nothing to do with Zen. Moreover, Dennis Merzel is by no means "enlightened". BM is simply a trans personal psychology designed to make participants feel comfortable with their egos--not to transcend it.

The bottomline is that Merzel is making a living based on the reputation of Zen. Overall, the Zen community should be thankful that he found nothing in the sitting meditation form worth trademarking--other wise the Zen community would have to refer to their practice as "Big Butt".

ursus said...

There is always going to be a market for this kind of thing. Exercise machines are sold on TV and the Net while those who buy them cannot do a single pushup (for free). There are thousands of books on diets whereas simple solution for losing weight is to eat less. But that, of course requires effort. Which sucks. Sitting is boring, annoying, hard, hurts back and knees and you never know if there is going to be any point of that! Popping headphones on and relaxing under a dreamy music is cool and pleasant and brings results quickly. Some results anyway. Tempting man!

You believe your way is the best and teach it. That's professionalism (in Buddhist priesthood I guess). I tend to agree with your teachings. Many will disagree and buy this gadget with soundtracks at alpha level (what the fuck does it mean, but doesn't matter, it comes in different colors so that can combine well with my new shoes). Please keep talking, I will not buy that stuff but rather listen to you.

Buddha Torrents said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew said...

enlightenment is itself faux and zen is schizophrenic.

genpo is just doing what zen excels at which is plagarism, ripping off soen san nim and clear mind slogan, who himself was just dipping into the korean zen bag of cliches

such dull and dreary minds that the best they can do is filch cliches

enlightenment, buddha; sentimental nonsense for cretinous twits

Anonymous said...

Some very enjoyable posts. I have sat for years, but wish I could do it more intensively as many of you have....job intervenes...
I sat with Genpo's group at one point. At first I was fascinated, I ended up basically not really liking him.

Before and after that, I encountered along the way one martial arts teacher and two zen teachers who I really felt close to. It was totally different. None of the three was into making money or amassing power. Nothing could be further from their minds. All were rebels in some sense: there was an absolute commitment to the truth. NO interest in bullshit at all.

The martial arts world is full of bad teachers who fool people and who are technically competent. To find a really good person who is technically excellent is very rare. Probably they have relatively few students.

The BM process may have merit, but I hate the marketing. It reminds me of Werner Erhard's stuff. In fact Genpo had done some of those courses, and that no doubt helped lead to his developing BM.

I did some of those courses too and though on the one hand I "got a lot out of it" and it "opened doors" on the other hand it took me years to erase the traces only partly.

Many people got a lot out of it, but many also got some power out of it that they went on to abuse.

It is very hard to remain pure and be involved in power and money and affairs with students. That Genpo covered up and lied about his affair in Maine is very revealing about his character. This was after I had known him and even then there was a similar incident.

I guess there are some people who you can just trust and some you can't. You have to go with your gut. I love van der Wetering's books and don't love Ken Wilber's for instance...

So it does not really surprise me to find them working together.

It seems only the heart matters.

Guess there is no short cut. Too bad... and Wonderful!!! Best to all...

Anonymous said...

Having had a few go's at the BM process and being committed to Zazen and koan and working with a teacher, I feel it has something to add to the mix. Moving through different "selves" helps loosen my hold on a fixed sense of self. If I am so many selves but not any one, who am I? Why not just be "non seeking non grasping" or "Big Mind". All the effort to make something happen can get in the way. BM offers a way to side step the desire to make it happen and to just do it. However i am sure there is no substitute for sitting in order to integrate in a deeply saturating way. Genpo still recommends Zazen and koan. I kinda feel if someone brings up stuff very strongly in us like Genpo does for Brad then it points at a part of ourselves that we have disowned and not integrated yet. When i look at the papers every day I know that every murderer and mugger is just me. Same way Genpo is just you Brad! Just maybe a bit you don't like to look at.

Anonymous said...

As a student of Genpo's I feel he has used the poularity of zen to sell BM and then used BM to sell zen. He always taught that you needed to sit alot in order to see the effects of BM...Funny how that worked. The next thing is become scarce so no one can question you!

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Well, I don't really think it may have success.